Kiss Him, Not Me
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Kiss Him, Not Me ?
Every semblance of realism is thrown out the window in this week's supernatural-flavored episode. Although this series has featured a steady amount of cartoony humor from the get-go, I never expected to see the gang put in mortal peril or go head-to-head with otherworldly forces—much less in the same episode. The results aren't outright awful, but the latter portion of episode 8 feels strongly at odds with the series as a whole, as well as the world in which it's set.
While on a pilgrimage to honor the anniversary of the passing of the real-life inspiration for Kae's current favorite bishonen, the gang unwittingly finds themselves shipwrecked on a cursed island that's rumored to house the general's severed head. Separated into two groups, our heroes find themselves besieged by supernatural entities intent on dragging them to the underworld. Since this is a comedy, the characters generally take the existence of ghosts in stride, and Kae and Mutsumi are able to vanquish the vengeful spirits with relative ease. Even though the group's run-in with the supernatural is ultimately chalked up to hallucinogenic mushrooms, Mutsumi has proof that what they experienced was real.
This might be the show's first anime-original story (I'm current with the English release of the manga, so it's possible this event comes later), and the first half of the episode nicely meshes with what came before it. This is the biggest trip the gang has taken, and the impetus for embarking on this journey adeptly illustrates the level of Kae's devotion to her fictional crushes. As is often the case, Nanashima, Igarashi, and Shinomiya's flabbergasted reactions to the girls' quirks (coupled with Mutsumi's nonchalance) serve as the week's comedic highlights.
The second half isn't as strong for a variety of reasons. For starters, characters being put in life-threatening peril feels at odds with the overall tone of the series. Secondly, the supernatural elements were neither funny nor interesting enough to warrant introducing. I suppose I could have overlooked certain issues I had with this portion of the episode if what transpired on the island had actually been a mass hallucination. The fact that everything was apparently real makes this feel more like a non-canon Treehouse of Horror affair than an actual entry in the series' plot.
This week's Kiss Him, Not Me represents the biggest mixed bag the show has given us. While the first half is rife with clever gags and interesting ideas, the second takes a number of risks that don't have the desired payoff. I can certainly appreciate the staff's desire to expand the source material's world, but seeing honest-to-goodness ghosts into this series just didn't feel right. There were definitely some funny moments in the latter half, but the presence of supernatural elements ultimately served to distract from them. Fortunately, there's enough good in the first half to mostly make up for the things that didn't work in the second.
Kiss Him, Not Me is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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